Massachusetts students recently learned the process of remote learning will continue until at least May 4, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip our nation. Westwood’s initial two-week closing called for teachers to only reinforce skills already taught during the 2019-2020 school year. With the extension of the mandatory school closures, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) said school districts may move forward with new content and instruction. In addition, special education services would be implanted to the extent that it is safe for students and staff to do so.
“We know that school provides important structure, as well as a shared connection,” said Westwood Schools Superintendent Emily Parks. “Our remote learning plan is designed to not only reinforce lessons from the classroom, but also re-establish the sense of community our students are accustomed to.”
Based on guidance from Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeff Riley, students should be engaged in meaningful and productive learning experiences for approximately half the length of the school day. Riley’s letter to Mass. school superintendents indicates students will be graded on a “credit/no credit” basis for work completed during the Remote Learning Plan.
Westwood teachers are now utilizing video-conferencing so they may teach their classes remotely. While some work is synchronous – with teachers and classmates participating in “virtual classrooms” – students are also being assigned independent work to be completed on their own. As Commissioner Riley noted in his letter to superintendents, “Remote learning can take place in a multitude of ways, including student engagement with resources in their everyday lives, and the natural world.”
Westwood middle school and high school students can expect their work to be posted on Google Classroom or Canvas. Elementary school students will get their assignments on the WPS Continuation of Learning webpage.
“Our elementary teachers are reviewing assignments and expectations with their students every morning during virtual morning meetings,” Parks said. “To make this a little easier for their parents, teachers are also providing one PDF file for each grade that contains all the printable material for the week.”
Parks added the district is working with families that may not have computers or printers at home to ensure they have access to remote learning.
“I want to reiterate that we understand and appreciate how much our students and families are going through right now,” said Parks. “We are committed to supporting our students and families through this time, so we can keep learning alive for all Westwood students.”